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SPRING THAW.

Can I tell you how happy I am every time I pick up a new compilation of Alison Bechdel's work? Split Level Dykes to Watch Out For (Firebrand $10.95) brings us up to date in the lives of Mo, Lois, Sparrow, Ginger Toni, Glance, son Raffi and all the rest of the gang. Sure, we can scan our favorite local rags for the latest installments of the strip, but it's much more satisfying to have the comics all with-in one cover. Not only that, but Bechdel's eighth collection of her long running strip includes more than 40 pages of original art-work to drool over. If you're a die-hard Bechdel fan you might also have to get What Do Dogs Dream, (Andrews McMeel $6.95), a tiny gift book written by Louise Rafkin and illustrated by Bechdel. What do dogs dream? They dream about having hundreds of tennis balls sleeping on the couch, and dining at special doggy restaurants, of course!

You may have already seen Michelle Tea, supreme chronicler of lesbian life, perform with the literary road show Sister Spit on one of their zany, cross country tours. Tea's stream-of-consciousness style of writing/performing captures the urban dyke experience in a way similar to the work of New York poet Eileen Myles. Share the experience with Tea's new book of autobiographical stories, The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America (Semiotext(e), $8). "The summer I came out," Tea writes, "I felt indescribably perfect. . . Everything seemed possible... .The spirit of summer, the sun-spirit, the spirit of wine and warm nights had delivered me to a group of wonderful loud-mouthed girls who were also unafraid to wear their queerness as a fashion accessory. One of them, Liz, became my girlfriend. I had met her at the abortion clinic on Boyleston Street, I had liked her right away because she was such an awful bitch to the Christians."

Another book rooted in the spoken word, Boys Like Her: Transfictions (Press Gang $15.95), is a collection from a Canadian group of gals named Taste This. This is as much art as it is storytelling. Described as a "road movie of young queer life and gender transformation," the book is divide into sections called "Bound," "Sick, "Bent" and "Wet." The four members of Taste This, Anna Camilleri, Ivan E. Coyote, Zoe Eakle, and Lyndell Montgomery, challenge and entertain us with their multi-gendered wit and wisdom. The beginning of the year always brings with it a new crop of "Best Of" books and this year is no exception. Best Lesbian Erotica 1999, edited by Tristan Taormino and selected by Chrystos (Cleis $14.95), is a collection with works by the likes of Carol Queen, Nicola Griffith, and Cecilia Tan, while The Best American Erotica 1999, edit-ed by Susie Bright (Touchstone $12) contains work by both sexes and all genders, with writers such as Elise D'Haene and Robin Sweeney appearing alongside the boys.

Two new anthologies include Friday the Rabbi Wore Lace (edited by Karen X. Tulchinsky, Cleis $14.95), an anthology of erotica by Jewish lesbian writers, and Adios Barbie: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity (edited by Ophira Edut, Seal $14.95.) Adios Barbie is a powerful collection by young writers whose voices we will surely be hearing more from in the future. The chapter names alone are worth the price of the book, as evidenced by "The Butt: Its Politics, Its Profanity, Its Power," and "Fishners, Feather Boas and Fat".

Queer journalist Donna Minkowitz went behind the lines of the Christian Right to document their lives and politics. The result, Ferocious Romance (Free Press $24), is a fascinating account of what she learned on her journey, and of the similarities she found between the gay communit and. that of the organized right. (See Minkowitz's first-person essay on the facing page.) In one of the more interesting accounts, Minkowitz writes of disguising herself as a young man in order to attend a men-only Promise Keepers meeting.

One of the most lovely books produced by British publisher Routledge is The Passionate Camera: Photography and Bodies of Desire, edited by Deborah Bright ($30). The book includes more than 50 artists, scholars and critics documenting and critiquing contemporary photography. Works from artists such as Catherine Opie bump up against essays by artist/critics like Mary Patten and Alisa Solomon. It's a wonderful book and a great gift for any visual artist you know.

Finally, for all you astrology buffs, Queer Astrology: A Guide for Lesbians (Jill Dearman, St. Martin's $13.95), provides all the necessary information for your own sign and those of your friends and lovers. Lesbian Step Families by Janet Wright (Harrington Park Press $19.95) explores a topic that will only expand as lesbians produce more children and we merge our families. Paula Gunn Allen, best known for her writing on Native American spirituality in The Sacred Hoop, collects her shorter work in Off The Reservation: Reflections on Boundary-Busting, Border-Crossing Loose Cannons (Beacon $25). Finally, mystery writer Kate Calloway presents the fifth installment in her popular Cassidy James series, 5th Wheel (Naiad $11.95)..
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Author:Rachel Pepper
Publication:Curve
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Words:857
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